Manage stress with 4 steps
Stress is everywhere. From minor setbacks to major life changes, no one can avoid feeling overwhelmed from time to time. And with all the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, even people who don't generally struggle with stress and anxiety are feeling worn down.
If you’re in a crisis or struggling to cope, it’s important to seek professional help. But for those who feel they can manage stress levels on their own, there are lots of things you can try at home.
Here are four everyday changes you can make to curb stress and boost your self-care regimen.
1. Prioritize Sleep
Are you getting enough good sleep?
If you’re feeling unusually stressed, your sleep schedule is one of the first things you should examine. Sleep (or a lack thereof) influences your mood as well as your physical health.
Adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night. But how can you achieve this if stress makes it harder to fall and stay asleep?
Practice good “sleep hygiene” in order to improve the amount and quality of your sleep.
When possible, go to bed and get up at consistent times every day. Make your bedroom as restful and inviting as you can—fine tune the temperature, lower the lights, and keep electronic devices away from your bed.
2. Drink less alcohol
In a stressful situation, do you find yourself thinking “I need a drink”?
If the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an uptick in your drinking habits, you’re not alone. American adults reported increased alcohol consumption in 2020.
It’s fine to indulge in the occasional drink. But while a glass of wine can provide temporary relief, using alcohol to cope with stress is not a good idea. It can compromise your immune system and lead to other mental and physical health problems down the line.
Avoiding alcohol before bed is also recommended as part of good sleep hygiene. Alcohol can mess with the quality of your sleep, thus leading to more stress.
So instead of reaching for that second or third drink when you’re stressed, try substituting your favorite seltzer or juice, or look into alcohol-free ways to unwind after a long day.
3. Try Out a New Relaxation Technique
Be sure to slow down every once in a while. Stress fills your body with hormones and makes you physically tense.
Exercise is a great way to take care of your body and reduce stress, but maybe you’re looking for a routine that specifically promotes calm.
If you’re interested in better mental wellbeing, the Harvard Health blog recommends the following techniques to reduce stress:
Body scan (which combines deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation)
Yoga, tai chi, and qigong
4. Take Better Breaks
When you have a few spare minutes, it’s tempting to reach for your phone to check your email or scroll through social media. For many people, the methods we use to “relax” during a five-minute break from work actually cause more stress!
Do your breaks renew your energy, or are they draining in their own way?
Think about activities that bring you joy and try to incorporate them into your breaks. Take a short walk, strike a yoga pose, or put five minutes into that jigsaw puzzle you’ve been working on.
You may not have as much down time as you’d like, but making better use of the time you do have can help you to relax and recharge, even on a tight schedule.
How Hawthorne Can Help
You’ve got enough on your plate. Your pharmacy should reduce your stress—not add to it. Efficient, dependable, and ready to go out of their way to get you the help you need, the team at Hawthorne Pharmacy always delivers quality care.
Transferring your prescriptions is easy, and we offer free local next-day delivery Monday through Friday. You can even order medication refills and communicate with our pharmacists through the RxLocal App!